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Home > News > PTI

Mahasweta Devi calls upon writers to spread awareness

Mona Parthsarathi in New Delhi | July 08, 2007 17:48 IST

Jnanpeeth and Magsaysay award winning writer Mahashweta Devi is totally disillusioned with the politicians and appeals to writers and other artists to create awareness as Premchand and Satyajit Ray had done.

Extremely hurt by the incidents like Nandigram and Singur, rocked by protesters against farm land acquisition,
the 82-years-old writer has also taken a break from literature for the time being as the social activist inside her is more active these days.

"I think our independence is a failure. Promises have not been fulfilled. There are a number of laws in the books but who implements them? The system is accountable to the people but what did the people get?" said the writer in an interview with PTI from Kolkata.

"Creative writers and artists must have social conscience and they should be ready to bear their responsibilities towards society. I have stopped writing novels or stories these days as I am very busy raising these issues through newspaper columns," said the Padma Vibhushan awardee.

"I cannot operate a computer, cannot use email either. I can only write and express my feelings through pen and paper. I am following the path of Premchand and Satyajit Ray to create awareness through my work," said Mahashweta Devi who has authored novels like Jhanseer Rani, Hazaar Chaurasir maa, Aranye Adhikar and many more.

Citing the example of Nandigram and Singur, she alleges law and order does not exist in West Bengal and the state government is "acting deaf and dumb."

"Where is law and order in the state. Government is not ready to listen. Nandigram is still burning. Everyday there is bombing and firing going on from Khejur side," Devi said.

"I went to Singur last year and Nandigram twice this year. I have seen people were protesting themselves which was a new experience. I was encouraged to write and am still writing for the newspapers. Now, we have so many people from art and literature world with us," said the veteran.

What is the reason behind Kolkata police calling her 'Maoist' in its website? "Kolkata police tagged me as Maoist in its website. I spoke to Prasun Mukherjee, the Police Commissioner, on phone. He apologised and promised to rectify this error. I don't know what happened after that," said the writer, most of whose work is inspired by the Naxalite movement.

Coming back to Singur and Nandigram issue, she accused the state government of violating all rules in acquiring the land for the Tatas in Singur. In Nandigram no action has been taken despite several barbaric incidents of rape and killings, the writer alleged.

"There are about 37 villages in Nandigram bloc but not a single doctor was there. Rape victims have identified the culprits but police refused to lodge FIR," said Devi. After reading her articles, some doctors went there and efforts are being made to built a proper hospital there but the state government is nowhere involved in this, she said.

The struggle against feudal forces is the backbone of most of her literature and Naxalite movement and tribals are an integral part of her work. Asked about the condition of tribals, Devi said, "After 60 years of independence, they are still waiting for justice and equality. They are deprived of their own land. Naturally anger is there."

"But they are more civilised than the so called mainstream. In their society widow marriages are common, women enjoy equality and they never kill a girl child," she added.

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